The steady decline of marriage rates in Nort American and European countries since the 1960s seems to have relegated marriage's political role in relation to the state, a topic that deeply concerned prolific English writer Gilbert Chesterton in the 1920s, to a state of historical curiosity and obsolescence.  

Les différentes techniques de contrôle des mariages mixtes mises en place ces dernières années par plusieurs pays européens ont été élaborées dans une logique de gestion du risque migratoire et non dans la perspective de l’exercice d’un droit fondamental – le droit de vivre en famille –, encore moins dans l’optique d’une intégration aux sociétés d’« accueil ».

The past 10 years have seen an increase in legislation pertaining to marriage migration in Europe. Such attention betrays various concerns and anxieties that intersect not only with issues of risk management, rights, and citizenship, but also with less tangible dimensions such as emotions, which become embedded in legal as well as in surveillance practices.

This introduction to the special issue on “Emotions, Governmentality and Neoliberalism” situates the theme inside the recent International Relations literature devoted to emotions and affect.This literature misses an engagement with governmentality, notably because Michel Foucault's prime concern with practical rationalities, such as “the conduct of conduct” in the case of governmentality, led to an assumption that these were devoid of emotional dimensions.

Marriage migration has recently drawn some attention, notably to the ways in which third-country nationals face increased challenges compared to European citizens when it comes to reunite with their spouse or partner. Foregoing a detailed legal analysis, this article rather seeks to interrogate the following: what connections can be drawn between law, love, mobility and sovereignty?

Advanced capitalism is characterized by a level of symbolic production that not only results in a dematerialization of labor, but also increasingly relies on highly emotional components, ranging from consumption desire to workforce management. Feelings as varied as love, anger, and desire are integral to neoliberal processes, though not in unproblematic and monolithic ways.


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